Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A midwinter night's dream

I really wanted to recapture some of the frankincense and myrrh in this music, and the process was a fresh reminder of the diversity of so many traditions when it comes to music of the winter season. The songs are rich with abundant references to the natural world and connections to our spiritual and religious bearings; it's clear that people have always used winter as a time of reflection.

The seasons have always held their mysteries and wonders, and we mere mortals have been fascinated by them and driven to understand our inter-relationship with the natural world,
as we try to discover the spiritual and religious significance of it all. Over the centuries, music has become a conduit for that reflection as it strives to capture the interweave of our existence. This recording is one modest rendering of that fascination, a kind of discovery chest of musical merry making, inspired by some traditions I have encountered along the way. May the spirit of love, joy and renewal be yours.

With these words, Loreena McKennitt introduces us to her new album, A midwinter night's dream. This new seasonal collection (the second with A winter garden: five songs for the season, of which this album contains all 5 tracks) was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio in England and contains another 8 brand new songs. The track list is the following>
  1. The holly and the Ivy
  2. Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle
  3. The seven rejoices of Mary
  4. Noël nouvelet
  5. Good king Wenceslas (from A winter garden)
  6. Coventry carol (from A winter garden)
  7. God rest ye merry, gentlemen (Abdelli version) (from A winter garden)
  8. Snow (from A winter garden)
  9. Breton carol
  10. Seeds of love (from A winter garden)
  11. Gloucestershire wassail
  12. Emmanuel
  13. In the bleak midwinter
In this album Loreena show us once more its eclepticism and its wide musical interests, with strong influences ranging from Classical, to Celtic and Middle East. McKennitt herself plays lever harp, piano and accordion and is accompanied by:
  • Brian Hughes - oud, guitar
  • Hugh Marsh - violin
  • Caroline Lavelle - cello
  • Donald Quan - viola, percussion
  • Ben Grossman - hurdy gurdy, percussion
  • Simon Edwards - bass
  • Rick Lazar - percussion
  • Stratis Psaradellis - greek lyra, greek lute
I want to close wondering about Loreena's introductory words: "The songs are rich with abundant references to the natural world and connections to our spiritual and religious bearings; it's clear that people have always used winter as a time of reflection." It's clear that McKennitt herself loves winter so much. You can smell it, you can see it, you can shiver, with her music. Even in traditional songs from cultures so different (such as Good rest ye merry, gentlemen), you still recognize the basic principles about living a feast together: a community gathering around, listening to the same music, dancing together at the very same notes.

It's also worth noting that, amongst the great number of works she produced, winter always had a privileged position: she released 10 albums of which 3 are winter-centric (To drive the cold winter away, A winter garden, A midwinter night's dream).

If you love Loreena, buy it or download it from the official website and enjoy. And if you want to give somebody an original gift, this album is a good option to enrich the atmosphere of the long cold nights that await us until Christmas.

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